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Why Isn't More Law Student Debt, Jobs Data Public?

When law schools crunch numbers, sometimes they don't tell the whole story.

That's because the numbers might not look so good. For example, student debt has been going up while job numbers have been going down.

Law schools don't want to scare students before they take the plunge, but maybe it's time for more financial disclosure. After all, numbers-crunching shouldn't be used to crush students.

More Data, Please

In a report to the American Bar Association, a state bar association urges the ABA to make law schools disclose more data on student debt, tuition, scholarships and bar passage rates. They should provide the information to law students every year, the report recommends.

The young lawyers division of the Iowa State Bar published its recommendations in "A Way Forward: Transparency in 2018," on the Law School Transparency website.

The report shows statistically what many graduates have discovered in reality after leaving law school. They are looking at six-figure debts and five-figure jobs.

"Recent law grads have on average $134,497 in law school if they went to a private school or $96,054 in law school debt if they went to a public school," the ABA Journal reported. "But the median entry-level salary for 2016 grads in full-time, long-term jobs was just $66,499."

Belated Jobs Report

Unfortunately for new lawyers in recent years, jobs have been harder to find. The transparency report said jobs for law graduates fell three percent from the 1990's to the 2000's.

In the last quarter, U.S. Labor Department reported that the legal sector lost 1,100 jobs in one month. Those numbers hurt not just law students, but lawyers, paralegals and other legal professionals.

Advocates for law school transparency want to make sure students know what they are getting into before they learn from the school of hard knocks. Some law schools make voluntary disclosures, and some make "erroneous disclosures," the new report says.

The young lawyers group wants full disclosures published on law school websites and included in admissions offers.

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